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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Superhero Sunday: Doctor Mid-Nite

The Unusual Suspects
Since I have decided to take one day off per week, eliminating the Tuesday Tutorial in the process, I thought that I would remove the "Wild Card" status from the Sunday entry and give it its own topic. (Wild cards won't go away, they will just become more "wild": showing up when you least expect them.)
Since I grew up reading comic books and idolizing the larger-than-life heroes within, I thought I'd devote Sundays now to those grandiose characters of pop culture: the superheroes.
I had a friend who referred to comic book heroes and the like as "modern American mythology," and why not?
The original Doctor Mid-Nite
Characters like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and Captain America and Wonder Woman represent the best that we see in ourselves and fight for the ideals and principles we hold most dear.
Superman is an immigrant (from another planet, yes, but still) who fights to preserve the American way of life. He is all-powerful, but uses that power to protect rather than to rule. Batman is devoted to justice and protecting the innocent.Captain America fights for freedom. Spider-Man's mantra is "With great power comes great responsibility." Wonder Woman represents the empowerment of women. (Even if she was the secretary for the Justice Society for a while. Hey, it was the 40's.)
I like superheroes, whether created for radio like The Green Hornet, television like Doctor Who, movies like Leeloo in The Fifth Element, novels like Harry Potter, or in the millions of comic books published for the last seventy or eighty years.
So, if you like superheroes like I like superheroes, stop by here on Sundays and see who's featured.
Today, it's the dark and mysterious Doctor Mid-Nite.
Prominent young physician, Dr. Charles McNider is blinded during a mafia hit while trying to help a wounded informant. While recovering from his injuries, he is attacked by an owl one night in his home. Upon removing the bandages from his eyes, he discovers that he is able to see in the dark. Assuming the mantle of Dr. Mid-Nite, McNider creates a set of special goggles that further enhance his ability in the dark as well as allow him to see during the day. He sets out to bring to justice the mafioso who ordered the hit that blinded him and to fight against the rest of the criminal underworld who only come out at night. Aided by his blackout bombs that make it impossible for anyone but him to see, Doctor Mid-Nite set about cleaning up the streets of New York one criminal at a time throughout the 1940s. Doctor Mid-Nite hit the scene just a couple of years after the Batman, and, while obviously something of a Batman clone intended to capitalize on that cowled avenger's popularity, Mid-Nite is an intriguing character in his own right, and predates Marvel's Daredevil by a couple of decades as the first blind superhero.
Doctor Midnight! Spandex!
Now, unlike the ageless Superman and Batman, Doctor Mid-Nite existed in DC's Earth-2 universe (which also had its own Superman and Batman) where superheroes do grow older. Charles McNider would be succeeded by his medical protege, Dr. Beth Chapel as the second Doctor Midnight (though spelled differently) in the 1980's. She was also one of the few prominent African-American heroines in comic books.
The 3rd Doctor . . . NOT Jon Pertwee
In 1999, the third Doctor Mid-Nite (returning to the original spelling), Dr. Pieter Cross, is connected to the first incarnation by having been delivered by the good Dr. McNider at birth.
All three Doctor Mid-Nites (regardless of spelling) were actual medical doctors, all blinded in tragic accidents, all possessed the ability to see in the dark, and all had wicked cool costumes.
Doctor Mid-Nite will never be as popular as Batman, which means that we will probably never see the Doctor Mid-Nite movie starring the flavor-of-the-week action star, and you know what? I think I'm okay with that. Some things are just fine staying on the page.
Someone calling themselves yahooandgoogle12 did compile all of Doctor Mid-Nite's very brief appearances on the animated Justice League United series here:

And another Doctor Mid-Nite fan, Wolverine121496 made this tribute video:

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